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NBC Nightly News




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Russia 13, Ukraine 11, Us 10, Crimea 9, Los Angeles 4, Nbc 4, Christie 3, Chris Christie 3, The Ukraine 2, Joe Fryer 2, L.a. 2, Chuck 2, Lee 2, Smiths 2, Nbc News 2, Fritz Coleman 2, New Jersey 2, Fritz 2, New York 2, Miguel 2,
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  NBC    NBC Nightly News  

    February 28, 2014
    5:30 - 6:01pm PST  

and that really helped. >> welcome home. >> thanks. see you at 6:00. on our broadcast tonight, on the brink. the russians accused of an armed invasion under way right now in the ukraine. as the crisis takes a dangerous turn, late today, president obama warned vladimir putin there will be costs. race against time. as the storm that looks like a west coast hurricane comes ashore, the flood emergency in southern california. there have already been evacuations and rescues amid fears the burn zone will give way. and high drama. so many office drama pools are at stake, so much pride is on the line as the guessing game leading up to the oscars nears an end. "nightly news" begins now. good evening.
good evening. as you saw there, we have a storm approaching the u.s. west coast that is big enough to have an eye like a hurricane. and we will get to that story in just a moment. but we must begin instead tonight with the fear that the situation in ukraine is perhaps approaching civil war. russian troops have been arriving by transport plane and by helicopter in the crimea region, many of them with their faces covered, wearing no insignia. if not an invasion, it certainly appears to be a russian military intervention in a neighboring country in a former part of the soviet union. nbc's bill neely has been watching it happen today. he is in the ukraine. bill, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. there is a russian war memorial behind me. russia's black sea fleet has been based here in crimea for 250 years, but none of it
explains what russia has been up to today. there is no question, the russian armor and men have been on the move today, and maybe on the move tonight. a form of intervention? well, russia is admitting as much. it began in the dead of night, unknown gunmen surrounding the main airport in crimea. by day it was clear they were pro-russian and against any repeat here of ukraine's revolution. after the surprise on land came the shock in the air. russian helicopters, some gun ships flying over crimea, and what ukraine said was a violation of its air space. next, the sea. a russian warship blockading ukrainian coast guard vessels from leaving port. russia admits its armor and troops are on the move. these men blocking the main military airport where tonight hundreds more russians flew in. ukraine says 2,000.
russia says it's for security, but whose security, and is that really all? along ukraine's borders, russia drilled its troops, tens of thousands of them. russian jets flying near crimea, the message to ukraine's new leaders loud and clear. ukraine's old leader was in russia. viktor yanukovych defiant, blaming the west for the revolution, provocative, saying russia can't be a bystander. pro russians were standing guard outside crimea's parliament, russia's flag above it, barricades around it. three out of four people in crimea speak russian, feel russian, and resent the rest. they're nothing but fascists, this man says, helped and trained by americans. the protests here are continuing into the night. there is no need for russia to stoke pro-moscow loyalty. this place is full of it.
passions were stoked when a businessman who backed the revolution dared to appear among them. a mob chased him, yelling "russia" and "putin" until he was lucky enough to escape. crimea, an historic flash point is once again tonight a volatile region. well, the main airport here in crimea is closed tonight. and russian planes have been seen arriving. echos of the invasion of georgia six years ago. echoes, too, of the cold war. the east-west rivalry here inside and outside ukraine is deepening. >> dicey situation. bill neely live for us from ukraine. bill, thanks. also a dicey situation watching all of this. at the white house, we mentioned the president spoke earlier today. tonight our chief white house correspondent, political director chuck todd is with us
from the north lawn. chuck, what are the options there? >> reporter: well, they're not saying a lot about the options just jet. as you know, after days of what apparently was failed behind the scenes diplomacy to convince the russians to back off on this saber rattling, in ukraine, the president decided to go directly to vladimir putin that there will be consequences of the report that a russian-led military coup will take place. >> just days before the invitation to the olympic games it would invite the condemnation around the world. and indeed, the united states will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in ukraine. >> reporter: of course, just what those costs would be were left undefined by the president, and that was on purpose, though an aide just told me that the united states and its european allies are considering a boycott of the g-8 economic meeting that russia is scheduled to host later this year in sochi.
now, the entire diplomatic team has taken pains this week, brian, to emphasize this is not the cold war. this is not a dispute between the united states and russia, but privately, aides are acknowledging that this is becoming more difficult given putin's desire not to lose influence in ukraine. for now the hope here at the white house, brian, is that putin will interpret the president's statement today as enough of a threat that he will back down. we'll see. >> chuck todd at the white house tonight. we'll be watching it all weekend long. chuck, thanks. now we turn our focus to the west and that huge storm that looks like a hurricane on the map, complete with an eye at the core. this is a map of the water vapor out over the pacific. it's spinning into the state of california tonight, now dealing with more rain in just the past couple of days than they've had in over a year. and areas already hard-hit by the awful wildfire season are in danger now again because of this. nbc's miguel almaguer remains east of l.a. for us tonight, miguel, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. the concern here in the city of
azusa is mudslides. authorities tell us now the area is stable. take a look at how deep the mud is, four feet in some areas. that basketball rim ten feet high. the concern is all of this mud which authorities fear over the next 48 hours could slide right down hill. the strongest storm in three years hammering the west coast. this is what an inch of rain every hour can do. streets are flooding, creeks turned into raging rivers, threatening homes. strong winds knocked down trees and power lines. >> if you choose to not heed those mandatory evacuations, you must understand something. that as long as the mud is flowing, the fire department personnel cannot get to you. >> reporter: in the foothills east of los angeles, the mud is sliding more than a thousand homes have been evacuated. ed highline is losing the battle to save his home. this is what his back yard looked like yesterday. here it is today.
>> our house is going to have two or three feet of mud in the backyard. >> reporter: just last month, these hills were on fire. today penetrating rains swept up debris and smoldering ash. >> so from fires to drought back to fires. >> that's southern california, and we're all prepared for it. >> reporter: but commuters were not ready for three feet of rain in some spots, backup stretches 20 miles. the highway so slick, this big rig nearly flew off a bridge and caught fire. swift water rescue teams pulled two men and their dogs who got caught in the normally dry l.a. river. >> the water was pretty high up. the water was flowing approximately 15, 20 miles an hour. >> reporter: mudslides closed roads up and down the state. this is the city of glendora. we're on high crest road, which right now looks more like high tide. this torrent of water slicing right through the community. >> reporter: it was enough to surprise weather channel reporter dave malkoff.
>> i'm going to lose the shoe. >> reporter: too much water and mud, the schools close and the postal service suspended delivery. >> even when it rained, i've never seen it this violent and gnarly. >> reporter: the forecast calls for even more rain. good news for the drought although much of this water drains into the ocean. so tonight, the evacuations continue and so does the worry for so many hoping their homes will survive another stormy night. again, authorities tell us this hillside is safe for now, but with all of this heavy rain expected to last several more hours through the night, they'll continue to reevaluate, brian. all of the homes downhill have been evacuated or were supposed to be evacuated. authorities tell us not everyone has left. >> miguel almaguer in a driveway that was dry when we last spoke to him from that area last night. miguel, thanks. we're joined tonight by our own weather veteran in the l.a. area, fritz coleman from our
station knbc. fritz, we don't often see eyes off the west coast. does that mean we're still awaiting the most intensity? >> you're right, brian. the eye is the center of the storm, and that has yet to make landfall. we're just getting the initial funnel systems, the initial waves. in a four-hour period this morning, we did more rainfall than we've done all season. 3 to 4 inches and even more in some of the foothill areas. in the recent burn areas in the san bernardino mountains where miguel was. we may do this amount again tonight or greater. we've had 4 inches in some of the heavier spots. an average los angeles rainfall is 15 inches. so it's a big storm, but in our classic style, we've done too much, too soon. when you a lot of rain in a bridgestone/firestone period of time, we get the mudslides, the debris flows and the urban flooding we're having right now and a lot of snow at the local mountains. it's not a drought buster. this probably is not it, brian. >> all right, fritz coleman in los angeles for us. fritz, thanks, as always.
now we go to the east. another major snowstorm about to hit as we head into march. 100 million americans about to be impacted all the way from kansas to massachusetts. our report tonight from nbc's katy tur. >> reporter: first there was the cold. then snow. then bitter cold, then a whole lot of snow and still more cold. begging the question, will it ever end. >> i shovel one day, i got to shovel the next day. believe me, i do not like this weather. >> according to the national weather service's winter severity index, only detroit, where they've had 6.5 feet of snow and 66 days below freezing really is having its worst winter since 1950. this morning chicago woke up to 8 degrees. so far this season they've had more than 5 feet of snow, 22 days below zero, and a barrage of broken pipes. 4500 so far this year. four times as many as last year. >> what we're seeing is people who are not home a lot having
frozen water services. >> reporter: so cold for so long, heating costs are soaring. propane prices in the northeast are 14% higher than last winter. in the midwest, 39% higher. carol reeves can't afford the $5 a gallon it would cost to refill her propane tank, so she has been using the electric space heater and wood stove to stay warm. >> the pipes froze up and busted. and now because we had to use all these electric heaters, they're going to shut my lights off. >> reporter: even the federal government didn't see this coming. the red on this prediction map is where noaa said it would be warmer than normal. the blue on this actual map is where it was colder than normal. but not everyone got it wrong. >> we're bracing ourselves according to the farmer's almanac now for a piercing cold, bitterly cold, biting cold coming winter. >> so we ask the almanac. when is this all going to end? >> i think march is going to be a transition month, but it's
also going to be very cold, and there is going to be lots of snowstorms. >> reporter: and spring cannot come soon enough. we have another storm coming over the weekend. it will start in the west on sunday, move to the northeast on monday. it could bring a significant amount of snowfall, widespread power outages, and travel issues, both in the air and on the roads. brian? >> katy tur out back here tonight at 30 rock on another cold night. katy, thanks. still ahead for us tonight, 911 calls for help. the latest drip of information in the scandal surrounding those close to new jersey governor chris christie. and then later, why this year's oscar race is being called the toughest to predict in a long while.
as we mentioned, more news tonight about the scandal that has ensnared the inner circle of new jersey governor chris christie. tonight, we're hearing for the first time just how urgent it was for the people who were caught up in that massive traffic jam near the george washington bridge connecting new york and new jersey. ambulances, school buses stuck,
911 dispatchers describing a nightmare situation. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: "time for some traffic in ft. lee." that's what a staffer from governor chris christie's office ordered, and that's exactly what ft. lee, new jersey got. hours of backups at the george washington bridge. thousands of drivers were caught in an intentionally created, intentionally politically motivated traffic nightmare. today fort lee officials released 28 hours of 911 and police radio tapes from the four days the bridge lanes were closed. >> four-lane traffic is a nightmare. the gw bridge is totally gridlocked. >> we're getting calls from irate motorists. >> you're aware the town is in total gridlock, right? >> reporter: emergency workers struggled to get to a school bus accident. >> brace yourself, a school bus and a car accident eastbound, just on the other side of the
bridge. >> reporter: when the mayor of fort lee complained about the traffic, christie's now fired deputy chief of staff bridget anne kelly texted transportation official david wildstein. "it is wrong that i'll smiling? i feel bad about the kids, i guess." official says nobodies we life was in danger, but people in emergencies had to wait. multiple members of governor christie's staff have been suspended. but nothing so far links back to the governor directly. christie says he was in the dark until the story broke in the press. his political future may depend on whether or not the voters believe him. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. kerry kennedy, the daughter of rfk and ethel kennedy was found not guilty today on the charge of driving while drugged. she was arrested in 2012 after swerving her car into a tractor-trailer. she testified that she accidentally took a sleeping
pill instead of her daily thyroid medication, then got behind the wheel. we are back in a moment to remember a man who helped inspire one of this year's oscar favorites.
we want to show you this spectacular scene that occurred in nature last night in the u.k. absolutely stunning colors, pink and purple and green stretching across the night sky
from south wales to scotland and then to the west to ireland. the northern lights, an extra powerful show right now because we've just experienced the most powerful solar flare so far in the year 2014. in the movie "gravity," which is up for best picture at the oscars sunday night, george clooney's character flies around using a jet pack in space while calmly repairing a satellite. that's been done in real life. the man who did it, astronaut dale gardner, has died at the age of 65. along with a colleague, commander gardner snagged and retrieved not one, but two wayward satellites, brought them back to the space shuttle. back home on earth, he was a naval aviator and test pilot. confirmation tonight from the new york city medical examiner that actor philip seymour hoffman officially died from a mix of drug overdose.
hoffman as you will recall was found earlier this month in his apartment in new york. the gao, the government accountability office is sounding the alarm saying we don't pay our pilots enough for the job they do and the lives in their hands while in the air. it turns out 11 of 12 regional airlines in this country didn't reach their own hiring goals last year, and one of the reasons may be starting salaries. like first officers starting at $16,500 a year in some jobs. an average first year salary for copilots of just over $22,000 a year. with so many pilots retiring just about now, they say the need for more pilots and higher salaries is acute. it's now possible to see the day when a skin patch could replace the flu shot. just as stick-ones, so-called transdermal patches are used to deliver pain meds, nicotine and
contraceptives, a new patch is able to deliver flu vaccine through tiny needles on a patch, allowing it to painlessly flow through the skin and into the system. researchers believe it will not only save patients money but should also greatly increase the number of people getting flu vaccines. right now the patches are in the testing phase. they may be on the market as early as next year. another break here for us when we come back, rain or shine, the show goes on. but who will walk out the winners at the oscars?
finally tonight, as they say you have to be in it to win it. and one glance at the oscar ballot this year, let's just say for all of us who have a friendly wager going in the work
place, it shows a withering choice of great films, great nominees. and right now it's little comfort to know that we'll all know the answers by the time we return to work on monday. we get the story of this year's hard to pick oscars from our man in hollywood, at least for tonight, nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: it's an oscar race that's so tight -- >> oh my god. >> reporter: -- the stars aren't the only ones feeling the drama. >> it is serious business. >> reporter: so are the smiths. you see in this california household the annual oscar pool is a big deal. >> and we have bragging rights for an entire year. >> yeah, i've had them for the past two years. >> reporter: molly and her dad, steven, saw all nine best picture nominees before making their picks. >> we keep it very quiet. lips completely sealed. >> reporter: and this year is tough. >> usually by this time you know who is going to win. it is different this year. >> reporter: this man says that best picture remains a three-way race, featuring "12 years a
slave," the real-life story of a free man sold into slavery. "gravity," the heart-thumping space thriller. and "american hustle," the tale of star-studded con artists. the favorite for lead actress remains cate blanchett, and for supporting actor it's jared leto. >> why are you so good to me? >> welcome to the dallas buyers club. >> reporter: matthew mcconaughey is a front-runner for lead actor, but faces what many are calling the strongest actor lineup in years. >> 500,000 pounds of cotton, day in and day out. >> reporter: and you might as well flip a coin to figure out who is going to win supporting actress, which pits lupita nyong'o against jennifer lawrence. who could win back-to-back oscars at age 23. there is one more thing that is hard to predict about this year's oscars -- the weather.
with the rain coming down, a giant tent is needed to keep the red carpet dry. >> this is my year. this is it. >> reporter: but the smiths are more concerned about what happens inside as the oscars race to a photo finish. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. that is our broadcast on this fright. and for this week, thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be here with you this weekend. we, of course, hope to see you right back here on monday night. have a good weekend in the meantime. good night.
it is coming down again. this is how it looks outside right now. you can see on the left, raining in san jose and on the right, the clouds are heavy over san francisco. good friday evening. thanks for joining us. i'm janelle want in for jessica . >> i'm raj ma thigh. here is fallout early this morning. flooding and slick roads, plenty of frustrated commuters, hundreds of spinouts and rollovers.
our bay area reporters are stationed throughout the bay area tracking the trouble the rain is creating and our micro climate weather team is also tracking the storm as we get to saturday and sunday. let's begin with jeff ra ne. >> the core of the low pressure is offshore and heads towards los angeles. we'll get side effects from the system. namely the possibility of isolated thunderstorms throughout the next 12 hours that could produce gusty winds and small hail. the radar, it's not extremely active but plenty of areas of light to moderate rainfall and that's all you need to make the road ways continually slick. we're looking at the green towards livermore and extremely heavy rainfall but enough to keep 680 and 5 80 wet. rainfall totals